Wound Healing Time Increases with Age; Exercise Can Help

Animal studies suggest that exercise may be even more important for older people than for younger ones. A report from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shows that exercise significantly decreased wound size and increased healing rate in older mice. However, exercise had little effect on the rate of wound healing in young mice. (American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, November 14, 2007).

Mice ran on a treadmill at moderate intensity for 30 minutes a day for eight days. They then were given four full- thickness skin wounds and the rate of wound healing was checked daily for 10 days. Compared to age-matched non- exercising mice, the older exercisers healed faster.

The leading theory is that aging delays wound healing presumably because aging causes your body to produce more free radicals that damage the genetic material in cells. After you eat, food travels into mitochondria, small areas in cells that turn food into energy. They do this by removing electrons and hydrogen from nutrients. The electrons then attach to oxygen to form free radicals that stick to and damage the genetic material DNA in cells. This can delay healing and presumably even shorten life. Exercise causes the mitochondria to turn food into energy without producing as many free radicals, and therefore could hasten healing from any type of injury or illness. More on mitochondria and aging


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